The state’s 2008-2009 hunting and fishing licenses will go on sale Aug. 18, and when they do, 14- and 15-year-olds will be able to purchase a big-game license. The legislature amended the state’s Environmental Conservation Law this year - making the youngsters eligible to hunt deer and bear using a rifle or shotgun, when accompanied by an adult. DECALS (Department of Environmental Conservation Automated License System) has already been updated to reflect the change in the law.
When the 14- or 15-year-old comes in to buy their first big game license this year, they will need to have their Hunter Training Certificate with them and they’ll need to have their parent or guardian with them, with proper identification, to sign the application. The DEC has provided license agents with consent forms that the youngsters will need to carry while hunting. The form will have to be signed by a parent or guardian while in front of the agent. Along with the proper signatures, the form must identify the adult who will accompany the youngster if they are not a parent or guardian.
The battle to lower the age for youths to hunt in New York has been a long and trying one for those of us who understood that without youths entering the hunting and general conservation-theme activities, the state’s problems in attempting to properly manage wildlife would only accelerate as the present hunting population ages. It’s really also less about the average age of those who hunt and more about how we manage such potentially problematic game species as deer, bear and coyote in the future.